Another summer at Grand Teton has passed and gone by to quick. We keep busy when we are here but always at the end of the season we are squeezing in just one more hike, one more sunset or just one more drive around looking for wildlife, as there always seems like we should have done more.
Fall was definitely at the Tetons the last few weeks prior to our departure. Leaves were changing color, a chill was in the air every morning and evening and the bears were out eating their way through the berry bushes to get ready for hibernation. Fall is a really spectacular time in the Tetons.
The last hike we trekked was Bradley Lake and Taggart Lake. We hiked this trail the first year we worked here but not since then. It was a perfect fall late morning on the trail and the Aspen trees seemed to frame Grand Teton on many occasions. Both lakes were serene and so clear and blue. It was a perfect end of season last hike.
The hike that was the most surprising was Moose Ponds. This hike starts at Jenny Lake, passing one very hungry black bear in the bushes to the ponds. It’s named Moose Ponds because moose like to frequent the area and boy, the moose were here that day! Three mouse were spotted: a mom, a baby and an adolescent male. The adolescent male was running around the far end of the pond, into the pond and around again. At one point he decided to change route and walked right onto the hiking trail. He was way to close for comfort and luckily he quickly walked off the trail to eat. It was quite the moose encounter!
The major hike we conquered was Paintbrush Divide to Cascade Canyon. This hike had been on our bucket list for awhile and we are grateful we hiked the trail when we did as the wildfire haze got worse and worse all summer long. We woke at 4 AM and took two vehicles as the trail has a different start and end point. We started on the trail a little before 6:00 AM and saw the next hiker not until 2 hours later. Every turn was breathtaking: tree covered canyons, small waterfalls and open meadows filled with flowers. Hiking up to the Divide was rocky and steep but oh boy, the view from 10,700 feet is indescribable. The main attractions were Lake Holly and Lake Solitude, were we had lunch and relaxed by putting our feet in the water. After this point it was views of Grand Teton and so many beautiful wildflowers. As we neared the end of the hike, we saw a moose in a river just hanging out. We ended the trail 9 hours after we started and happily took the shuttle boat back to our car to avoid another 3 miles of hiking. We were spent from the day but it was the best 18.3 mile hiking day.
A few smaller hikes we did were:
Pole Cat hot springs/Huckleberry hot springs where we hiked the whole trail in our Chaco sandals. It was a short hike where we first crossed a small river before we hit the trail. The trail is almost a loop and there are a few random hot springs before the two main attraction hot springs are seen.
Trapper Lake is a very easy but long hike. The best part of the trail are viewing the first two lakes: String and Leigh Lake. The trail continues on to pass a few campsites, Bearpaw Lake to its final destination of Trapper Lake. We were told a black bear was in the nearby bushes but we didn’t see her.
Lookout Rock is located on the overlook at Emma Matilda Lake. A bald eagle was hanging out in a tree at the lake as we sat and had lunch. The hike itself is pretty easy, with views of the Teton Range and Oxbow Bend from above.
Flagg canyon was a really short hike we did on a hazy, smoky day. The trail is close to Yellowstone and through a burnt forest from a wildfire a few years ago. Off the trail is views of a small canyon, eroded from the river and wind. It’s another unique part of Grand Teton that many do not see.
South Landing or as the locals call it Secret Beach, is a 1/2 mile hike through the tall trees to a beach. This is no ordinary beach as it’s secluded and has great views of the Teton Range. A short but worthwhile hike.
Angle Mountain was a hike we did in the National Forest and we were the only ones on the trail beside some quails. Fall had just started and the trees were looking so pretty. This is a short but steep hike that would have offered us views of the Teton Range if it hadn’t been for the haze from the wildfires. A pretty and peaceful hike nonetheless.
We do not plan on returning next summer to this splendid area. Not because we don’t love the mountains or the friends we have made but because that next adventure is pulling us in another direction. We are returning to our midwestern roots and will spend next spring through fall in upper Minnesota on a small lake. We are both looking forward to fresh strawberries, corn on the cob and apples next season. It’s the small things in life that bring the most joy sometimes.
Till next time, happy trails!
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